Sidmouth donkey charity helps vet students in New Zealand continue with studies amid pandemic

International veterinary students in New Zealand, Canada and Spain have been given a helping hand with their studies through lockdown thanks to a Sidmouth animal charity.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s veterinary team, based near Honiton, has been helping students across the world with online teaching.

The team stepped in to help, during lockdown, to help students with ‘Extra-Mural Studies’ – placements to prepare them for working in clinical environments.

The team put together help for pre-clinical and clinical students, including webinars, fact sheets, narrated power points, web links and case studies.

Alex Thiemann, senior veterinary surgeon and education lead at The Donkey Sanctuary said: “In a normal year, we would devote many hours to hands-on teaching at our state-of-the-art donkey hospital, or would spend time at universities and colleges in the UK and abroad.

“It’s really important to us that we share our expert knowledge on donkey welfare and care with the next generation of veterinary professionals.

“Covid-19 means we have to work differently to deliver this support, taking our teaching online to reach thousands of students.”


The Donkey Sanctuary’s veterinary surgeon, Jesus Buil, who helped Spanish students with the remote learning.
Photo: The Donkey Sanctuary


The Donkey Sanctuary’s senior veterinary surgeon and education lead, Alex Thiemann, operating at the charity’s state-of-the-art hospital.
Photo: The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary was prompted to act and set up the free course material after responding to a request by the University of Nottingham.

The charity, with its headquarters in Sidmouth, said the online tutorials have been shared with other leading veterinary schools in the UK and used by students in Massey, in New Zealand, and Guelph in Canada.

Teaching was also extended to students in Spain.

Professor Sarah Freeman, from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham, said: “We are hugely grateful to The Donkey Sanctuary for sharing their fantastic resources and expertise.

“It has been a difficult time for the students with so many opportunities and practical experiences cancelled.

“Being given access to a range of excellent resources and their staff’s advice and expertise, and learning more about donkeys and the amazing work that The Donkey Sanctuary does has been a real positive experience in challenging times.”

Some students attended seminars over Zoom led by The Donkey Sanctuary’s expert veterinary team.

The aim of the seminars was for students to gain an understanding of how to treat donkeys and to learn about the important role they have in supporting livelihoods of 500 million people internationally, the animal charity said.



The Donkey Sanctuary’s veterinary team.
Photo: The Donkey Sanctuary.

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